Employment Tribunal rules employee unfairly dismissed after role was made full-time

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An employment tribunal has ruled that a former Capita employee was unfairly dismissed after they were made redundant following a restructuring that meant they were unable to continue working in a part-time role.

The Sheffield employment tribunal also found in favour of the employee, Mrs McBride, in an indirect sex discrimination claim.

Mrs McBride returned to work following maternity leave and a career break and requested flexible working hours to help manage the health of her children.

Her employer refused the request because the role required her to be in the office from Monday to Friday, but she was informed that a job share that would allow her to work from Wednesday to Friday would be possible.

Mr Lovell, McBride’s Manager, informed the tribunal that he had concerns over the job share before it began, believing there would be issues with accountability and the efficiency of product delivery.

McBride was then given separate projects to the other employee, effectively diluting the job share and dissolving any shared responsibility.

A review of the team was undertaken, with Lovell feeling that the roles needed to be full-time, moving from one full-time member of staff and two part-time members to a team with three full-time members of staff.

McBride and the other employee she job-shared with were informed that they were at risk of redundancy, before she challenged her manager on the decision, stating that she felt the agreement had not been properly tested to arrive at this conclusion.

Following a series of meetings and appeals, McBride was put on notice of redundancy with her contract being terminated in September 2018. The colleague that she job-shared with was also made redundant.

Judge Robert Little said: “We do not consider that any such fine-tuning of the way in which the role was conducted makes it work of a different kind. Accordingly we find that there was no redundancy situation in law with the result that that could not be a fair reason for dismissing the claimant.”

Samantha Cass, A solicitor with Palmers who specialises in employment tribunal matters, said: “Part-time workers have the right not to be treated less favourably than a full time worker doing the same or similar work, regarding their terms of employment.

“This means that the selection process for promotion or, conversely, redundancy, should be the same as the criteria for full time workers.

“With the abolition of employment tribunal fees, it has become far easier to bring claims than in the previous five years, so employees who feel they have been unfairly dealt with, have easier access to the courts.

“It is therefore vital that any employer who needs to downsize their workforce seeks legal advice to ensure that the selection process is equitable.

“This case also highlights the fact that many employers are confused on issues such as job sharing entitlement. Again, it’s worth seeking legal advice prior to approving job share requests to ensure that the new arrangement will not be detrimental to the business.”

For help and advice with all aspects of employment law including job share arrangements and redundancy issues, please contact us.